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had to flee Los Angeles, s.o.s, Disgruntled state of Dystopia as the kids say
May 24
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MARCH 30, 2012 4:48PM

Celebrate my Mother's birthday with me, if you don't mind

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My mother strikes me as a miracle. Otherwordly, I guess. A survivor in the truest sense.  Today is her birthday, and I feel close enough to enough people on OS to want to celebrate her here.

She has never been cruel to me or anyone. She has never not been there for me, no matter what hour of the day or night. She has never shown selfishness. She has never ever felt sorry for herself or shown me cowardice of any kind.  She makes me giddy with adoration and amusement, every single day. Everytime she leaves the house she livens up the outside air in a way you have to see to believe. Inside, she is responsible for delighting anyone who calls or enters our door.  I am convinced the day of her birth should be an international holiday, though it is not.

In February of 2008, an unrelated Cat Scan, found a Mass in the tail of her Pancreas. Soon my sister and I were in contact with Oncologists. They sounded grim, at first,  but then more optimistic. She appeared a good prospect for the Whipple Procedure. After intensive googling this meant that my mother, not healthy to begin with, had at most-- five years to live and in those five years would be sickly and unable to eat most foods. The chance of this mass, with its appearance,of being benign wasn't even discussed. More googling explained why. At most, there was a 1-2 percent chance of such a mass ending up benign.

I learned then the true meanings of the words forlorn and forsaken. I would learn more about those feeling down the road, but till then, I had not fully understood them.  Before such an operation would take place I was told that it was probably best to have a fine needle aspiration biopsy just to be sure.

And, so it went. I won't go into that day, and how I lost it-- prayed aloud  on the godless and deserted streets of Beverly Hills. I won't talk of how, in a sense, Leonard Cohen, saved our lives. That's a story for another time. I'll just say that I prayed in a way that seems unorthodox, and I made many deals with what looked like a dark, limitless, and cruel sky. The gist of my promises: I would do anything to make my mother proud, would never waste another moment on aspiring to do so,  if I got that 1 percent.

Wrecked with anxiety and greif, I entered the room where the biopsy took place and was met with the ice cold Indian Doctor. Her only  words to me, " It does not present as cancer." She had poked the mass and it had deflated is what the nurse would then tell me. The nurse would then tell me and everyone else in the room that Patrick Swayze was just on the news- diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. I joked to her, " It's because my mother has yet to dirty dance,"and she laughed. For years, afterward I sent prayers out for Mr. Swayze but those didn't work. Last week, after four years, we were told that the mass still appears non cancerous. We were also told that this could change but that it is "unlikely." This is why, despite all the horrors of what would happen with the legal system, I need to not complain much.


 My mother's birth, on March 30th 1939, was seen as a great gift from the heavens to her father and mother.  A gorgeous girl child born after three boys. family


Though my family were Orthodox Jews, my grandmother loved the Opera, and named my mother, Mariana, after her favorite Opera star.

 My grandmother owned a clothes factory in Debrisen, Hungary. Those clothes weren't good enough for a princess such as her daughter . She made sure that my mother was brought to Budapest boutiques, to be fitted, with the prettiest dresses possible.

 My mothers memories from 0-5 were that she could do no wrong .  Sometime before turning five,  she has a more vivid memory. They had a a housekeeper. The housekeeper had epilepsy. One day, the housekeeper had a seizure when cleaning the China. The China Cabinet came crashing down, and the glass in the cabinet and  all the China broke to shards.  My mother remembers a sinking  feeling in her four year old soul, that this signified something portentous.

 Then the memories are not of pretty dresses or visits to the "Condotorias" for Hungarian Pastries but of friends and  neighbors coming by to case their house -- seeing what furniture or valuables they might  get once the Nazis kept their promises.  She remembers that my grandmother had a means to get a Visa to America , and to get them out of there, but my grandmother was so sure that they should stay put . She simply was impossible for my grandmother to fathom that such evil could envelop such fine souls as them. She sensed her naivete too late. Then memories of her father and brothers coming home bloody and bruised from a beating from Pro Nazi Hungarians. 

Then more memories:  The brutal sounding knocks on her door, in the middle of the night.

"Shnell ! Shnell! Shnell"

  Move Move, get whatever belongings you can carry   Soon after this picture was taken henyaandbrothermy mother and her family were taken to a Ghetto in Debrisen. This image bergenbelsenetc1323047027gives terse detail as to her whereabouts from 5-6. She was taken in April of of 44 and liberated in April of 45.

Then more memories of unbearable hunger pangs, cattle cars, the mounds of dead bodies growing bigger every day. A Nazi pointing a gun at my grandmothers chest and my grandmother saying, " If a revered member of the German Army would murder a mother of four  children than who wants to live anyway." He let her go.  Potato peels for dinner.

All things being relative, and with some more learned facts, this trajectory bespeaks twists of fate, and the beating  of enough ominous odd s-- that could allow the writing of the rest of this post.  

It was only in the last four years that I really wanted to learn more and did. While I was being maliciously prosecuted by the Los Anglees City attorney, and while we were beset by evil with new names and uniforms, I began to delve into why my mother always said that she was liberated, while on a stalled train, by the Americans . History said that the English liberated Bergen Belsen. And why did she say that my grandfather succumbed  to Typhus while in Hileslaben not Bergen Belsen?  Why the train and why Hileslaben? Why did it take me so long to want to find out?

  Some three years ago, I googled "Hileslaben and Strasshof and Linz" and came upon this website.


Soon after I emailed the website owner and was contacted by a liberator of this train. I told him I very much doubted that my mother was on it but could he check. Soon, I was sent the whole train's manifest and saw this.

Marmorstein Jozsef 12.11.1878 Gemzse 07.12.44(my great maternal granfather)

Marmorstein Sandor 26.11.1924 Csap 07.12.44( My great uncle)

Marmorstein-Blum Ilona 12.08.1888 Nagyecsed 07.12.44( My maternal great grandmother

Szamet Kalman 02.04.1908 Sator.Ujhely 07.12.44( My grandfather- He died of Typhus days later)

Szamet Marianna 30.03.1941 Debrecen 07.12.44(My mother)

Szamet Pal 29.09.1934 Mateszalka 07.12.44( uncle)

Szamet Samuel 03.12.1893 Satoraljaujhely 14.12.44(uncle)

Szamet Tibor 10.09.1936 Mateszalka 07.12.44(uncle)

My grandmother's name is not there but she survived too. My mother's birthdate is wrong too but what can you expect from those that want you dead.

It turned out that not only had my mother in 44, accidently(But, what story of an accident)  been on a train from Debrisen to Austria(While the other two trains full of Hungarian Jews were sent straight to Aushwitz and immediately gassed.My great grandmother and most of the rest of my extended family were among them.) But that in April of 45,  the Nazis had commanded  that three  trains be used to evacuate the most messed up looking in Bergen Belsen so the press would not get to see them since it looked as if they faced defeat. The train conducters were given orders that all in these trains were to be killed. The story goes that the conductors or engineers were given orders to have all in the train die ,including themselves, but they were not particulary suicidal . They panicked and stopped the train to discuss what the hell to do. An American troupe saw it and rescued those on the train.  My mother remembers seeing her first black man that day, and as you can imagine she cannot understand racism. Here' s a picture of that day, but I'm not sure if my mother is in this picture, though one of the girls looks like her.



After a stay in France, at a refugee camp, her family, missing many, made it to Israel.henyagrandamyoungisrael2 

There her name was changed to Henya, and all her family took on their Hebrew names. She kept surviving , and then got encepahlitis at age 13, and was all but declared dead. The story goes that the Rabbis of the town, and the whole town prayed .One day she awoke from a long coma, with richer and curlier hair,  but no  ill effects when so many with the same virus were deaf or dumb or dead.

She kept persevering and after a long stretch in a pleasant orphanage(She, of course, makes  it all sound wonderful,) she kept growing into a beautiful and exceedingly charming, brave, and good  woman.

henya2  henya4 gorgeoushenya 

When she was 17, she charmed her way into being a teacher, as she didn't have a degree yet. The kids went bonkers for her and would follow her home everyday.

 teacher Once day, during this time,  she got another very bad feeling. The same day of the bad feeling, she'd be told that her favorite brother had been killed, as a soldier, in the Sinai war.

She'd get a teaching degree from Yeshivah University a few years later and she'd be known for turning hooligans into angels.

Too indepedent  for marriage she did it anyhow . She wanted children. Here she stands with the mother in law that despised her, for no understandable reason, and made her life much more miserable than was NECESSARY.


A small haphazard collage of the intervening years.collage henyaA picture that resembles her, as of today, and will have to do because she's asleep , and I can't get a picture just now.


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Beautiful story, my friend. Hugs and kisses to your beautiful mama from me on her natal day.
Happy birthday to your beautiful, resilient, & loving Mom, Fernsy. I will help celebrate her birthday as a national holiday. :)
Told with love, by someone who understands love- wish her happy birthday form all of us......
So glad she never dirty danced! So glad she was on that train that day! So glad she gave birth to one of my favorite people!

A warm tribute, a remarkable story. Yes, let's make her BD a holiday. Give her a warm embrace from me.
Such a beautiful woman with a wonderful daughter. Happy Birthday Mom (she let's me call her that!:-)
Erika: I had to do this in a big rush. I forgot the part about how my mother has to liven up ever "stiff." Thanks friend, I will give her those kisses and hugs for you.
Clayball: Maybe by this evening it will be so ;) Thank you, clay ball.
Herr Rudolphus der Rude: May I call you Herr Rudolphus from now on as I find you kind and not rude. Thank you.
Kate O'Hehir: Thank you. I'm a panty waste compared to her but I appreicate it anyway.
Crankymydearfriend: Two different trains at two different times. All those in the four trains ,she was not on, died. Wild, eh?
Reading your magnificent book and always so flattered by your largesse. She thinks you are adorable and will enjoy that embrace.
Scanner: Of course you can call her that. Just don't call her "young lady." She will give you the stink eye and say, " I am an old voman." Thanks sweet Scanner.
Happy Birthday to your mom!!!

Wonderful story!!

Like your tags say, you got really lucky.
I literally have tears in my eyes for what your beautiful mother endured. I also have tears for the love her beautiful daughter has for her.
You are all very, very blessed.
Thank you for National Henya Day. ~r
Fernsy, you poured your heart and soul into this post. Your mother's beauty transcends her pretty face; she is gorgeous through and through. Hug her for me and thank her for having such a warm and thoughtful daughter.

Right in the middle of my comment, I got kicked off OS. Was it something I said? Anyway, this was a gorgeous post and you seem to be following in her footsteps. Happy Birthday, Mom. You're beautiful in every way./r
Thank you for sharing your mother's amazing story with us; the love shines through here brightly. Also...

The love you have for your mother shines brightly here! Her story, your family story I can't even imagine. Happy Birthday to your mom!!
What a doll - even the darling little monkey! This is a tribute fit for a queen, and well deserved, Fernsy. Oh, and....HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HENYA!!
Happy Birthday to your mom, fernsy. She sounds like an amazing woman who's led an amazing life. Her daughter seems to take after her, in looks and otherwise.
We share, your mother in law and I, very little except the mother-in-law part, but still I empathize.

Nicely done.
Thank you so much for sharing this brave story of your mother. This is really well-done, fernsy. I was totally absorbed as I read and had tears in parts. The photos are riveting. You share your mother's beauty, by the way. I hope she reads this; it will make her proud. Happy Birthday, Henya. L'chaim!
Fernsy,beautiful,healthy,smiling,hαρρy birthday to your beautiful mother."She has never ever felt sorry for herself or shown me cowardice of any kind .."I admire this quality..
All your loving story has described a loving ρerson that deserves to be loved..and has a loving daughter that loves her trully...The use of love so many times is is the key for me..and in your story I have sense it,understood it,admired it,felt it..

An excellent ρresent for your mother..Best regards.
I forgot to mention: check your gmail inbox, Princess. A little surprise in there for the Queen.
[r] wow, fernsy what an awesome and heart-tugging story (despite the mischief in your heart at the end!). THANK YOU. best, libby
Best wishes from Australia, Henya. What an extraordinary life ; what wonderful daughters you raised. Feisty +.
I love your mom. Since I have been on OS, I have always loved her. Now I love her more.
Beautiful mommy Happy Birthday from a third daughter!
Lovely lovely tribute Fernsy. Gorgeous people both of you.
Happy Birthday Henya!

I could go for a nice piece of Birthday Babka .
Wishing you all the most blissful, gentle, perfect birthday for your mother. What a wonderful woman to have raised a child who would write all these words of her ... this day ... to bring her to all of us ... so that we too ... can celebrate ... cherish ... honor ... her ...
She sounds grand. Many happy returns on a special day.
Just got back from trying to make this day as merry as possible, and just want to say that Henya and I love each and everyone of you. Warmed the cockles( of our not so healthy) hearts, so much!!! Thank you to this sweet community of such attractive and bright souls. What a godsend you have been.
Must now try to get her a sweet cause the bakery was closed! But, hope to answer each of you when possible. XXXOOOO
My GOD what a story. O f course HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your Henya!
What a wonderful tribute. You are very lucky to have such a wonderful mom. Give her a big hug for me. Just a mom was given 6 months to live and we had 5 great years with her. Each minute was a gift. Enjoy your gift to the fullest. (love the monkey)
What a story Fernsy and may everyone have a great Passover and Happy Birthday to MUM
Wow, we tell ourselves that we have it rough. Beautifully captured.
And good for you to know this precious history. The legacy to stay strong is rich in your marrow ...
How's mom doing? I remember your last piece with these vivid picutures, warmly garnered memories. Thank you for sharing such living history brought home.
I remember her talking to the police in the video you posted once. They were small potatoes compared to what she has seen.
What a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman, truly beautiful, inside and out.
rated with love
Happy birthday to an incredible woman, and mother of Fernsy!
What a story of amazing strength, courage and grace. Thank you for sharing!

Wishing a warm happy birthday to your Mama!
How sweet you are to do this wonderful tribute to your dear Mother. You are a good daughter and she is lucky to have you, and you are to have her. She has enjoyed a very full and memorable life, wishing her many more yrs. Best to her, happy birthday Mom.
Happy birthday, Marianna/Henya! You sure are a pretty lady, strong and smart and kind and lucky too! Your daughter is so good, you can be proud of her. I hope your birthday is just right.
H = Heroic
E = Extraordinary
N = Nobody's fool
Y = Yahweh(ess)
A = Astounding

D = Death defying
A = Adoration personified
Y = Yo Mamma ;-}

Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I'm guessing your Mom didn't realize she had so many devotees (nor you so many siblings!!) ~

It's a good thing I live by myself as I openly wept while I read this post, fernsy. I wish I could say more, but honestly I'm a tad overwhelmed by your open and eloquent display of love for your Mom in this far above the A+ grade birthday tribute. My heart is just swollen with a pride that doesn't rightfully belong to me but since you so graciously share your Mom here, I'm gonna grab on to those coattails! Just simply ... ahhhh ... picture perfect.

Oh my, me too. just overwhelmed by this post and so thankful that you wrote about your mother. You are so lucky. Give her a hug for me next time you are near. Much love.
Oh Fernsy, I smiled big time for the 'haphazard' collage and the last picture that apparently 'resembles' her!!! You are a joy!!!

A true survivor. Thanks for sharing your mom's birthday with us.
Happy Birthday Henya! Your beloved daughter is as magnificent and beautiful as you! This is the loveliest birthday post ever and I can see why, so much love in each line.

Dearest fernsy, there is a special angel or something over your mother and her girls. Just don't give up and you will be protected too.

Oh, and I peered closely at the last photo and there's a reason we feel close, I think we may be related.
Sleep depriving beautiful post, exhaustion leaves me with too few words for the impression that it left on me. What's not to love about the Opera, life keeps on singing with a will to be heard, always, even when all is taken away, even the language right from the mouth.

Thanks for the heart and soul Fernsy and your new avatar reminds of the first (light blue) that I liked so much.

Feliz Cumpleaños Henya!
What a beautiful story. You're both so lucky to have each other. Rated with hugs.
Awwww! What a beautiful tribute, fernsy. Happy Birthday Mom!
I crashed and then my computer crashed. Oy veyismir. Thank you all so much for the darling comments and birthday wishes. I feel as if this post barely scratched the surface of the magnificence that is my mother.

I truly feel such love and appreciation for all of you. As many of you know, this has been the roughest time imaginable, and your words and sentiments have made it survivable and more.

Pardon the gush, but it is utterly sincere.
i can see why she deserves a national holiday. it sounds to me like she was meant to stay here. and a part of that plan of the universe involves you.
Fernsy~ This is incredibly moving; I hardly know what to say. That your mother's spirit is so indomitable, that she shines in you are givens, off the top of my head. Some phrasings that just knock my sox off:
"" If a revered member of the German Army would murder a mother of four children then who wants to live anyway." He let her go. Potato peels for dinner. "
"I'll just say that I prayed in a way that seems unorthodox, and I made many deals with what looked like a dark, limitless, and cruel sky."
"The China Cabinet came crashing down, and the glass in the cabinet and all the China broke to shards. My mother remembers a sinking feeling in her four year old soul, that this signified something portentous."
And that ending that is so perfect, so "you": "A picture that resembles her, as of today, and will have to do because she's asleep, and I can't get a picture just now."
Lovely & loving. Happy belated birthday, Henya!
What a wonderful, painful, funny, and tender tribute, Fernsy. You have a wonderful backbone, delving into the Answers, the questions flowing, and this is surely an Inheritance from this amazing woman, your Mother. So happy for you to still have this life with her! Happy Belated from me, too. R.
ha! the monkey resembles her. Naughty daughter, u.
Oh but the rest of this remarkable post, written in love,
about a Woman of the Ages,
your mother!,
makes up for that bit of teasing.

A rich quagmire of hassle after hassle has been your family's,
your, life history....there IS a reason, fernsy....
and a way out...

Good people are fine prey for curses.
I have learned this from my own family.
Every day, dammit, is precious: this is perhaps the "lesson"
we are being taught. Sure, the wolves are at the door,
but they will NOT get me today...

A Dylan line comes to mind:
"maybe they'll get me
maybe they won't
but it won't be tonight
and it won't be here"
Love u in blue. Great picture.
WOULD YOU PLEASE PLEASE send me a p.m. when u post?
I am awfully distracted , inherently.
My biggest fear is to miss something.
Like a great post,
such as this..
Oh Fernsy, this just grabbed my heart and squeezed. What a beautiful bride. What a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing it.
Happy Birthday to your beautiful Mom.
I'm sorry I missed your mother's birthday, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY to her even so. You've spoken so often about your mom - it's wonderful and moving and sad and beautiful and hopeful and inspiring to read her story fully, and to see these pictures. Happy Birthday to her and many happy returns.
I'm so sorry I missed this incredibly rich post. What a life, in all its majesty and misery. Seems like your mother has had luck and fortitude on her side. I hope she had a wonderful day. I KNOW she's proud of her talented daughters and that she considers them her greatest treasures. (How do I know that?)